08 Aug 2022

ABA launches task force to promote the importance of judicial independence

Task force will be chaired by former ABA president Linda Klein

Protesters in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC

The task force comes amid heightened scrutiny for the US Supreme Court after three Donald Trump-appointed Justices helped overturn Roe v. Wade Shutterstock

The American Bar Association (ABA) has formed a new task force to address major legal issues and developments impacting the judiciary in the US.

The Law, Society and the Judiciary Task Force will be chaired by former ABA president Linda Klein, alongside six founding task force members to identify and recommend ways to educate the public on the role of the courts and the importance of judicial independence for the protection of individual rights and government institutions. The task force members are drawn from a range of disciplines, including academia, corporate law and civil rights.

Reginald Turner, the ABA’s outgoing president, said:  “As the world’s largest voluntary association of attorneys, the ABA has a special obligation to protect the legal system and the rule of law. A judiciary, free of attacks and intimidation, and making decisions on the legal merits, is necessary if the rule of law is to be maintained. This task force will help support that ideal and inform the public of its importance.”

In addition to Klein, the initial task force members include Boston University School of Law dean emeritus Ronald Cass; former president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill; co-chair of Alexander Dubose & Jefferson’s Texas Supreme Court and state appellate practice Wallace Jefferson; New York University law professor Melissa Murray; Gibson Dunn & Crutcher partner Theodore Olson; and The Red Bee Group principal Wendy Shiba.

Deborah Enix-Ross, the ABA’s president-elect who takes over from Turner this week, said: “The ABA is uniquely qualified to convene the best legal experts to offer advice and recommendations in a non-partisan fashion. Task force members will work to find ways to increase understanding of the importance of a fair, impartial and independent judiciary and the critical role it plays in the functioning of our system.”

The new task force comes at a time of heightened scrutiny for the US Supreme Court after three Donald Trump-appointed Justices helped overturn Roe v. Wade and return abortion laws to individual states. A concurring opinion in that decision from Justice Clarence Thomas suggested other rights, such as rights to contraception and same-sex marriage, could be at risk of being overturned by the court’s current 6-3 conservative majority. 

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